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News  5, Jun 2014

Softbank creates an empathic robot called Pepper

Japanese telco company to release robot to public in 2015 for less than US$2,000; it will be customisable, as users can install apps and upgrade its functionality

If you’ve kept up with news on consumer-level robotics, you may have heard about Danny Choo’s Android-powered robot doll a while back. The scene is getting a new unlikely player; Japanese telecommunication company Softbank.

The telco company is taking a plunge into the robot-developing field with its new invention called Pepper, according to a recent press conference it livestreamed today (via Engadget). It’s a human-sized robot that can recognise human emotions and feelings, as well as read into human tones to understand a subject’s disposition. Essentially, it’s a makeshift chat companion if you don’t have real-life friends in the vicinity.

Also Read: Japanese chat app LINE launches ‘Singapore Special’ stickers

The robot communicates to its owner through emotion, speech and body language; users can interact with it via its two mics and numerous proximity sensors. Furthermore, the robot will be customisable, as users can install apps and upgrade its functionality. Softbank stated that it wishes for Pepper to be smarter than when a user first buys it. Another key thing: Pepper’s emotion-sensing technology is acquired from French robotics company Aldebaran, which is renowned for the Nao tiny humanoid robot. 

If that’s the sort of robot you’d like in your life, you should be ready to fork out US$2,000 (provided you live in Japan in the first place, too). Pepper will be on sale to public in 2015. With the tagline “With Pepper, the future begins today”, we can foresee a lot more robotic advancements in the next decade or so if Pepper ends up being a commercial hit worldwide. Or foresee an apocalypse filled with Skynet-like robots, but that’s just us being pessimistic.

Jonathan Toyad

Jonathan Toyad

If you want an elaborate answer on who would win in a fight between Ultraman and Godzilla, Jonathan Toyad is your man. A six-year veteran in the game journalism industry, he did words and videos for outlets such as GameSpot, GameAxis, IGN and Stuff.TV. Fears coyotes and scorched earths.

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